OTIS -- A special meeting will be held Feb. 27 to determine whether to fund a series of costly studies for an ambitious large-scale wind energy project.

The studies are expected to cost about $400,000, according to Energy Committee Chairman Larry Gould.

That would cover the cost of studies for design work, the finalization of the business plan and other necessary agreements.

The funding would come from the town's stabilization account, which currently has just over $1 million.

Town officials have envisioned a large-scale wind project that could power town government buildings, allow for the sale of power to neighboring governments, lower residential power costs, and generate town revenue.

The turbines would be located on 35 acres of land donated by Ed Williams of Williams Stone Co. Williams currently has a profitable wind turbine on his property, and he's also been an advocate of the project.

Gould, who updated the Board of Selectmen on the project last week, said construction could begin as soon as September 2013 and be completed the same month.

The town would need to vote during its annual town meeting on May 21 to approve a bond to finance the $6.5 million project. Gould said the revenue generated by the turbines would cover the cost of operation and maintenance, insurance and administration of the turbines. He said town residents also would see a reduction of up to 25 percent in their own power costs.

Thus far, Gould said, only $3,250 in town funds has been used so far. The town might not need $400,000 if the state makes available a subsidy, Gould said. But he said the prospects of such a subsidy wouldn't be clear until the end of February.

There are other plans that need to be finalized including a power purchase agreement between the town and government and interconnection agreement between the town and utility company about creating an infrastructure between the wind turbine and the utility grid.

To contact John Sakata:
jsakata@yahoo.com
or (413)496-6240.
On Twitter:@jsakata

What's next

Additional information on the wind power project will be provided during the special town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Otis Town Hall.